Fighting the demon of addiction

During this nationally celebrated month, people are encouraged to openly discuss mental and substance use disorders and the reality of recovery. Aligning with this year’s theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Speak Up, Reach Out,” we are honored to give space to Lori Cross Schotten, state director of United We C.A.N. (Change Addiction Now) and her role in someone else’s recovery:

Every morning I log into Facebook to check my son's account to see that he has been online and thank God when I see he made it through another night. Every day I hope it will be the day I hear from him, hoping that he will want help, but dreading it may be another crisis.

This is the life of a parent who has a child in active addiction. This isn't the life I imagined when I gave birth to my son 20 years ago.

My husband is a psychotherapist and I am an adult educator. When my son was young, we spent a lot of time with family and friends. We knew the dangers of drugs and alcohol addiction and educated our kids. We demonstrated the "right" behaviors — rarely drinking and not smoking — because kids learn what they live, right? Oh how naive we were.

Our journey began five years ago with a prescription for Vicodin to treat my son's pain. We controlled his use of the medication, but we didn't know this synthetic opiate had awoken a demon buried deep in my son's brain. Maybe if we had caught the addition sooner my son would have never turned to heroin.

The boy I gave birth to disappeared and in his place was someone we didn't know and, to be honest, didn't like very much. We hid the depth of his illness from everyone. We knew they wouldn't understand. They would blame us, his parents. He would be seen as a moral failure. We isolated ourselves. We felt so alone.

The first time I spoke the words out loud that my son had a heroin addiction was in front of a state legislative com- mittee and television cameras while tes- tifying for the passage of the Good Sa- maritan and Narcan laws. This single event was the catalyst that would change my life.

I joined a local heroin task force. I shared my story in a television interview. Other families began contacting me to share their stories. We realized we were no longer alone. We were no longer going to stand by to watch addiction take our kids. We formed United We C.A.N. Change Addiction Now. It was born from these families who wanted—no needed- —to not only support each other, but to drive change.

Even after four inpatient programs and five sober living facilities, the de- mon is still stronger than my son. I still have hope that my son, and all the kids, will beat this demon to find their path to recovery.


MaryAdele Revoy, is drug free communities grant coordinator with the Family Resource Center of Sheboygan County and chair of the HSC2020 AODA committee.